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The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions (Publications of the American Folklore Society) Paperback – September 1, 1989
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"A provocative exploratory work."—Los Angeles Times
"Fascinating, original, and convincing, The Terror That Comes in the Night is one of the most significant books on the paranormal. . . . A classic."—Fate
"Anyone interested in folklore or dream research or bizarre and unexplained phenomena, which are here examined carefully and rationally, will enjoy this volume."—American Rationalist
"A brilliant and exciting look at a misunderstood phenomenon."—Western Folklore
From the Publisher
David Hufford's academic work, subtitled An Experience Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions, deals with the so-called 'Old Hag' experience, a psychologically disturbing event in which a victim claims to have encountered some form of malign entity whilst dreaming (or awake). Sufferers report feeling suffocated, held down by some 'force', paralyzed-and extremely afraid. It is an experience which is surprisingly common, with Hufford estimating that approximately 15% of people undergo it at some point in their lives. Various cultures have their own name for the phenomenon, and have constructed their own mythology around it; the supernatural tenor of many Old Hag stories is unavoidable. Hufford, as a folklorist, is well-placed to investigate this puzzling occurrence.
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* As of 2013, I notice several other books have been published concerning this topic. Unfamiliar with their content, so unable to comment on their quality.
Though it begins with, and is occasionally bogged down by some typically tiresome academic prose, for the most part Hufford has the courage to allow the facts - meaning testimonies - to speak for themselves. With the benefit of his methodical and objective reasoning, this approach eventually delivers his subject from the tediousness of too much jargon and equivocation.
And though he wisely resists arriving at any certain conclusions, his courage to at least acknowledge most of the possible explanations - physio/psychological or supernatural - associated with pavor nocturnus is much to his credit.
Many of the eyewitness accounts (which, I think, could have been improved by some editing), actually make for rather scary and unnerving late night reading. If you are familiar with the lackluster Grave's End, you will know what I mean. Likewise, similar examples of such "entity" encounters can be found in numerous other allegedly true haunting accounts. The resemblances and similarities are remarkable and, I submit, establish a pattern of credibility rather than imitation. T
I only wish that the Professor had more thoroughly described the different stages of sleep, including brain wave Hz rates, length and periodicity of cycles and degress of REM activity. It seems to me that an all inclusive scientific study of nightmares should result in some truly surprising insights into the nature of consiousness itself. At the very least a more complete and rigorous background explanation of what we currently understand about sleep would do much to bolster the bona fides of this specific inquiry.
Likewise, Professor Hufford is way overdue for an update considering the limited sources his research was conducted from and based upon. Considering the fact that he has pioneered this topic, his further investigations ought to be of even greater value and objectivity.
* I have found at least one somewhat decent documentary about Night Hag/Shadow People, from @ 2008 which includes Hufford's comments. It is available on YouTube. He wisely maintains an objective, agnostic opinion, though does not indicate whether or not he is still involved in research.
Regarding the entity hypothesis - which I obviously find the most reasonable (yes, that's the right word!), allow me to recommend a perusal of Carlos Castaneda's The Active Side of Infinity, particularly the chapters on Inorganic Awareness and Mud Shadows.
Skeptical? Just take a look, you'll see what I mean.
Not necessarily THE explanation, but there certainly are many interesting correlations!
We understand full well the origin of "Old Hag" attacks. These are not one source. They are many times demons. Other times, individual humans can project and effect these attacks. This can be done by practitioners of witchcraft or simply by angry people who do not fully understand in their conscious mind what they are doing.
Anyone wishing to learn more about what is popularly called "deliverance" by those who work to set people free can start with Win Worley or Derek Prince.
One important thing to understand is the notion of rights. In the spiritual world, there are rights of access. For example, the three young women who lived in a demonized home on top of a hill... It is likely the hill was used in the past as a place of sacrifice to demons (probably considered "spirits" or "gods" by earlier peoples, before the home was ever built.) That is the right of the demons- sacrifice to them. The story of the Philippines shows another right- the photo on the wall of the old woman- that alone is sufficient right for her to enter as she wills.
Notice carefully how the demons attempted to alter the thoughts of one of the three young women living on the hilltop- to to implant ideas to kill her friends. That is one of the reasons demonic beings attack. They desire to "kill, steal, and destroy." They attack via access using the soul. The body comprises the physical flesh, the intermediary soul, and the spirit. The spirit uses the soul to interact with the body. The attacker seizes control of the soul in order to affect the person. The soul is the seat of the mind, will, and emotions (and more, I'm sure.) To influence will and thought, they seize the soul- and thus render the person attacked unable to move their own body. Without control of the soul, they cannot move their own body.
* Please understand this as well: When the person attacked thinks they will die or that it is useless to resist, it is very likely these are false notions implanted by the attacker as a means of preventing resistance. Also notice how the name of Jesus is very effective in ending some of these attacks- when the attacked person knew to use it.
You did include some testimonies from Mormons. I should tell you, many Christians, including myself, go on missions trips and sleep soundly. I have even slept in rooms filled with pagan images and statuettes. Before I found myself there, the Holy Spirit showed me in a dream that the spirits behind those images would desire to harm me- but that He would not allow it! The following week, I travelled to Boston and slept in a rented airbnb room- decorated wall to wall with eastern religious items. As promised, I slept great.
Still, I tip my hat to you. In your book, I recognized and enjoyed a measure of dedication to the scientific process which is (to be frank) virtually nonexistent in academia and popular science. The "peer-reviewed" process is drifting sideways into something which can better be called "peer-controlled" or "peer-attenuated." The scientific method is just a tool. The mind wielding it must first desire to find and publish the truth. I believe you are doing this quite well.
The excellent compilation and overview here cannot be rated anything less than 5-stars. It will be a valuable read for Christians and for anyone interested in an interesting and logical review of paralyzing, terrifying attacks which onset during sleep. Well done!